London — President Mokgweetsi Masisi has promised to encourage fellow Commonwealth leaders at the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to help eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and achieve clear vision for everyone everywhere.
President Masisi made this assertion before a sizeable crowd at the state-of-the-art O2 Academy Arena in Brixton, South London at an event hosted by Global Citizens on the night of April 17.
Global Citizens, an international non-profit organisation based in New York, had noted Botswana's commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, by tackling HIV/AIDS and implementing the Treat All Strategy.
The organisation also heard of President Masisi's participation at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) event earlier this year and the statement made on uniting to combat NTDs on Botswana's commitment to make progress in this area.
It was against this background that the organisation invited him to speak at their event.
They want to work with Botswana to showcase the country's leadership in combating diseases of the poor and Botswana's commitment to championing NTDs.
"This is an important occasion. We are all in the frontline of improving the lives of our people. Botswana, like most developed countries, is faced with problems of blindness and visual impairment, 80 per cent of which cases are preventable.
My government has introduced a programme for early identification of school children with poor vision called Pono Yame, (my sight), which will be rolled out nationally from now on until 2021," he said.
Mr Masisi explained that the initiative would allow Botswana to become the first country in the world to correct the vision of an entire generation of school children.
"However, there are many barriers that keep our youth from reaching their full potential.
One of my priorities is to reach as many Batswana as possible who are not receiving treatment for NTDs.
These diseases affect many people in various ways such as harming young women's reproductive health.
I wish to emphasise the importance of partnerships and cooperation between countries and developing partners in responding to the global challenge of visual impairment and NTDs," he added.
Mr Masisi announced Pono Yame, the eye health programme on stage to a rousing applause, which might help to promote Botswana's achievement in eye health.
The event was attended by high profile delegates such as UK government ministers and Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat who also made a statement on stage.
Between five and 10 per cent of children in schools have visual impairment, hindering their educational development and future prospects.
But with a simple pair of glasses, their vision can be corrected, giving them the opportunity to thrive in school and live to their full potential.
Together with national and international eye health organisations, Botswana is rolling out Pono Yame in partnership with Peek Vision, a not-for profit eye health organisation that develops and implements technology based solutions for accessing eye health care.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>